He was about 69 when he died, but to me he was always an old man because I suppose he worked hard and he wasn’t a very tall man. He was a lovely man. We used to sit on his knee. He was a carpenter until he died. Mum would tell me about Christmas Eve when they would all sit around the fire and have a hot tea, but it was hard, she was always working. I suppose when her mother died some of her sisters were very hard on the young ones.
Some of the sisters had gone to America but the ones who stayed home resented having to stay. She would have to clean the stairs and one of the sisters would be cranky and she would say she hadn’t done it right. She would have to do it all over again.
When her mother died she became close to Auntie Kippie - she would have been an aunt-in-law. Her husband would have been a brother to my Grandpap. They lived at the top of the town. Auntie Kippie was a kind of a surrogate mother, and my mother spent most of her time up there after school in the evenings.
But Grandpap was great. He made them have piano lessons. There was always somebody calling in. They had a piano in the parlor upstairs and there was always somebody teaching them piano. There was always music in the house. The house was renowned for singsongs. There were lots of girls in the family so there were always parties and all sorts of games, lemonade, singing, and music playing, and piano. Of course nobody went to bars in those times.
A lot of guys would be looking to go out with the girls in Waterford. I suppose there wouldn’t be any party announced but if people called in they would be asked to have a cup of tea, and then there might be a gathering and soon there would be a singsong. It would always be upstairs in this lovely room they had. I hear it was a lot of fun, that’s what Mum said.
The house is still there in Waterford and still in the family. It’s about ten years now since I have been there. It hadn’t changed really. It was like going back in time. The workshop is still there.
My Dad’s side were from Co. Galway. All I know about my grandparents is that they had five boys and four girls. That’s my father’s brothers and sisters. My grandmother died in her fifties, either of T.B. or cancer. They didn’t know what cancer was in those days. My father would have been young when she died – only two. His parents had a plot of land on an English Lord’s estate. They were evicted off the land because they couldn’t afford to pay the rent. For quite a while they didn’t have any land. And then there was a land commission set up in Ireland and they were allocated some land in Co. Galway. I think there was quite a stigma about being given the land for free. It was like a handout. So his father was a small farmer and that’s the farm they grew up on then. There was a beautiful long road going up into it, a beautiful long road that went on forever before you came to the house. The school was at the corner of the entrance to that road.
I never heard anything about how my grandparents met. You’re sorry when you’re older that you didn’t ask all those questions when you were young.